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Sandy Journal

Local graduates awarded foundation college scholarships

Aug 29, 2018 12:32PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Canyons Education Foundation honored students for the third year with scholarships, totaling $11,000. (Canyons Education Foundation)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This fall, four high school graduates who attended schools in Sandy will have the opportunity to pursue classes in college, thanks to the help of the Canyons Education Foundation. 

Diamond Ridge graduate Calena Slesser received Canyons Education Foundation’s $2,500 Rising Star Scholarship while Alta High’s Olivia Steadman, Jordan High’s Makayla Wright and Jordan High and CTEC’s Vanesa Beers were named Bright Star Scholars and were awarded $1,000 each. 

They are some of the eight students who were awarded scholarships based on their abilities to overcome some difficulties in their lives, said Foundation Officer Denise Haycock. 

“New to the position of development officer I can easily see where awarding scholarships to deserving students will be one of my favorite parts of this job,” she said about the scholarships that were awarded to many students who have already made great strides in their lives, from improving grades to overcoming trials in their lives.

This is the third year Canyons Education Foundation has awarded scholarships. On April 19, the foundation awarded a record $11,000 in college scholarships.  

For Slesser, college wasn’t something on her radar during her sophomore and junior years. 

“I wasn’t into school,” she said. “I went to Brighton, then Hillcrest. But I didn’t go. I’d skip and ride TRAX all day. I had all Fs. I thought maybe I’d get my GED.”

It was her sister who decided to attend Diamond Ridge first.

“She was doing well there and talked me into going so we could graduate together,” Slesser said. 

But that wasn’t meant to be. Before school was to begin two years ago, her sister was struck and nearly killed by a car. The focus shifted to helping her sister and taking care of younger siblings before she moved into her aunt’s home and went back to school. 

“I was kind of nervous going to school, but my sister’s friend told me the teachers were super nice and supportive,” she said. “My aunt also told me it was my decision to go to school, but she said once I made my decision, it was up to me to do it.” 

Slesser attended school and her grades improved. During her senior year, she had a 4.0. Then, last spring, she was called into the school office. 

“I was super confused. There were balloons, everyone was smiling and excited. I couldn’t believe I got the scholarship,” she said, adding that it will help her to study interior design at Salt Lake Community College. 

Beers also plans to attend SLCC on her scholarship. 

“It’s my first scholarship,” she said, adding that she hopes to eventually attend medical school at the University of Utah to become a dermatologist. “It will be my responsibility to pay for my schooling, so I was thrilled when I got the email saying I got the award.” 

“Dermatology has interested me ever since I learned about it,” she said. 

Through CTEC’s medical assisting program externship, Beers has learned about dermatology as well as plastic surgery and being an ear-nose-throat specialist. 

“I’ve followed a medical assistant and scribed and numbed a few patients — that was really cool,” she said. 

She also has been involved with Jordan High’s Link Crew, helping freshmen transition to high school, and their chapter of HOSA — future health professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, a national career and technical student organization. 

Steadman also plans enter the medical field — radiology. She also attended CTEC’s medical assisting program and had a four-month internship at an area hospital.

“I applied for the scholarship and included what really influenced me in the application,” she said. 

The Alta High yearbook photographer also included her involvement in her school’s swim team, lacrosse club and with the Madrigals on her application. She also went on a humanitarian trip to Thailand. 

“My principal, Brian McGill, learned I got the scholarship, then told my mom who pulled me out of class to tell me. I was really excited. Dixie will be a good introduction to college for me,” Steadman said. 

Like Steadman, Wright also will attend Dixie State University to study physical therapy.

It was through Jordan High’s counseling office that the 3.8 GPA graduate learned about the scholarship. 

“I listed my academic achievements, wrote an essay about my plans with the scholarship, and my involvement — drill, volleyball and track,” she said. “I also had my coach and teacher write recommendation letters.” 

Wright also included her community service, ranging from helping with the Utah Food Bank, Sub for Santa and Festival of Trees to creating hygiene kits, participating with Hearts Knit Together and setting up flags for her church. 

“I was presented with a large cardboard check at the gala, which was circus theme. There were silk dancers, a band, food, activities all centered around ‘The Greatest Showman.’ It was amazing,” she said about Canyons Education Foundation Spring Gala. 

At the gala, all the Bright Star winners were recognized, including Sam Aamodt, Corner Canyon High; Marthe Mfourou, Hillcrest High School, and McKayla Dumas, Brighton High; as well as Corner Canyon High’s Emily Arthur, who received the Mountain America Scholarship.